Last week I was fortunate to be invited to Pizza Express in Islington to find out about the new Pizza Express Leggera Range.
Leggera means 'light' in Italian and so to create the new Leggera range, Pizza Express have taken their five most popular pizzas and transformed them into 500 calorie versions of their former selves. How have they done this? I hear you cry..... Well the Leggera range is inspired by a classic fresella bread from Naples – an Italian bread with a hole in the middle. By stretching the dough more, less dough is used and you end up with a lighter, more crispy base, and reduced calories. Additionally, the dough at the centre of the pizza has been replaced by a fresh salad of rocket and ricotta salata cheese which removes even more calories. Pizza Express are marketing their Leggera pizza range as containing 'more toppings, less bottom' and this is indeed they are.
There are two vegetarian pizzas included in the range, the Padana and the Pomodoro Pesto. I would suggest checking whether the pesto used is actually a vegetarian pesto as generally pesto is not truly vegetarian as it contains paremesan which is made from animal rennet, but from the perspective that they both do not contain meat, they would be classed as vegetarian pizza's
The original Padana Pizza contains 883 calories and the orginal Pomodoro Pesto Pizza contains 862 calories. There are just 500 calories in both of the Leggera versions, so you can see that you are eating over 300 calories less by choosing a Leggera range pizza over the original.
To tempt us to try the range, Pizza Express invited some local food and lifestyle bloggers to make their own Leggera pizza, so that we could see what it was like to make the range and test for ourselves whether a 500 calorie pizza had as much taste as its calorific cousin.
To start off our evening, we were treated to a demonstration of how to make a Padana Leggera Pizza by one of the Pizzaiolo's.
After he had demonstrated, it was then our turn to don aprons and hats and make our own Leggera pizza. I chose to make the Padano pizza, a romano base with red onion, caramelised onions and goats cheese. Before adding any toppings, we had to first prepare our base. We pressed, rolled and threw until the pizza dough was large enough to fit the pan.
We then cut a circle out of the middle using a cutter and then placed the toppings onto our pizza.
I added the tomato paste, goats cheese and red onion to my pizza,along with some herbs to add flavour.
Here I am with @Jhowse @cazroz and @mediocremum displaying the pizzas we made
This was my pizza after it came out of the oven
Here is the finished result, with the rocket, ricotta cheese and balsamic dressing added.
It was really fun and interesting making our pizzas and it was lovely to see how the range is made. After eating our Leggera pizzas, we all agreed that we felt full and felt like there had been enough on our plates. The addition of the salad really complimented the rest of the flavours in the pizza and made for a very filling meal. I cannot believe that there was only 500 calories in my pizza, I certainly did not feel short changed in any way. The Leggera range definitely makes a great alternative if you are counting calories or just want to have a lighter lunch. All in all it was a lovely night and also lovely to meet up with fellow bloggers again and chat.
Stay tuned as I will soon be going out on the town to test how the Leggera range we sampled during the launch evening compares to the Leggera range in one of our local pizza Express restaurants!